The company already sells some of its nutritional oils, such as omega-3 and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), for products targeting joint health. The new product, introduced at Health Ingredients Europe this week, will however be more closely focused on this application, which is seeing increasing growth based on age-related joint disease.
More than 7 million adults in the UK - 15 per cent of the population - have long-term health problems due to arthritis and related conditions, according to the Arthritis Research Campaign, and 550,000 have moderate to severe osteoarthritis in their knees.
Incidence of arthritis is set to increase, impacted by the rise in obesity.
Called CrodaFlex TII, Croda's new product is based on hydrolysed type 2 collagen derived from chicken sternum, which naturally contains chondroitin sulphate. Both are key building blocks of human cartilage so the supplement is thought to help joint health and flexibility.
However the new product will not compete directly with chondroitin sulphate, which is produced in greater volumes at a significantly lower price.
The collagen market is growing however, driven by evidence of its efficacy. In vitro studies have shown that hydrolysed type II collagen is able to stimulate chondrocytes, joint cartilage cells, boosting the biosynthesis of type II collagen essential to new cartilage formation.
Double-blind, randomised clinical trials have also demonstrated that supplementation with hydrolysed type II collagen and chondroitin sulphate can significantly reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis and enhance mobility.Chondroitin sulphate is believed to play a joint protective role, inhibiting enzymes which degrade cartilage .
Croda says it will also target the sports nutrition sector, where athletes under high impact training are at greater risk of joint and ligament injuries.
CrodaFlex is soluble over a wide pH range and supplied in a stable spray-dried form, for formulation into functional foods, drinks, tablets or capsules.
Croda recently carried out a double-blind trial on 20 volunteers with rheumatoid arthritis. Those who took supplements of GLA and high potency omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, saw significant reduction in an inflammatory biomarker, as well as pain, it reports. The results have been submitted for publication.